Svetlana Katynova Saves the Sacred Lands of Altai
The ancient Altai culture of Svetlana Katynova still honors the Earth as our mother! Her people are stewards of a place so sacred that pilgrims have, for millennia, come to her homeland for healing.
But Svetlana discovered that, in the newly democratic, capitalistic Russia, her people must “own” their motherlands, or risk losing all access to them. Her people could not even grasp such a concept. Furthermore, the governmental bureaucracy was organized to stifle this indigenous “ownership.” Meanwhile, millions of present-day pilgrims (now known as tourists) await the moment, January 1, 2010, when they can officially devour this virgin land, summer-home by summer-home.
To protect her sacred homeland, Svetlana committed all of her life-force and resources to awakening her people and creatively finding solutions. She funded her 10-year effort by first registering and then selling her own inherited lands. In the process, she learned the legal “ropes.” Gradually, she educated and mobilized the people of Tyungur village, gateway to sacred Mt. Belukha, chasing off a “black realtor” who was preying on the villagers’ naivete, searching out legal recourses, and successfully encouraging communal self-organization.
Finally, in 2007-9, Svetlana allied with Altai Mir University (www.AltaiMir.org) to make an international appeal through GlobalGiving.com, raising funds required for surveying, registration, and legal fees, thus enabling the poorest of the poor – the widows and invalids – to participate. Now, as the registration deadline rolls around, the necessary papers have been filed, and Svetlana Katynova is looking ahead again, developing sustainable, culturally-appropriate employment for her people.